I wonder about the effect of Instagram on our minds

I have been having a discussion with Tim about Instagram recently. Interestingly its also the launch of Ingrid Goes West.

From tmdb

Ingrid becomes obsessed with a social network star named Taylor Sloane who seemingly has a perfect life. But when Ingrid decides to drop everything and move west to be Taylor’s friend, her behaviour turns unsettling and dangerous.

It doesn’t sound great, something like Friend Request and Unfriended.

Anyway…

I don’t use it because I have issues with the whole setup of instagram. Without going into too much detail, here’s the main points.

  1. I don’t agree with Instagram’s end user licence, which includes using your photos in almost anyway they like.
  2. I don’t like the creation of instagrams is all within the same app (for example I use a Plume on Android and Corebird on Ubuntu) to access Twiter and I create, edit and post to twitter not within twitter (it a important distinction)
  3. I don’t like the fact Instagram isn’t really public, indexable or accessible unless you are on instagram.
  4. I have a problem with filtered views of real life. Its bad enough that every photo you see has been doctored/photoshopped/filtered/algorithmicilly messed. But I don’t want to see them everyday.

Photoshopping

And the last point is a key one, as its clear there are serious problems with seeing this level of fakeness everywhere. Like it or not, it becomes normalised.

I hear some of you say this is no more than what Twitter or Facebook do/enable? and I would somewhat agree… but I have built ways to deal with this partly due to being able to use other apps or types of behaviours which run against the way it was engineered.

For example I don’t really look at the Facebook timeline, as I know its trying to lock me into a filter bubble, somewhat of my own making. Yes I could do a Robert Scoble and manage it into a better bubble, but I just don’t think its worthy of attention; plus Facebook doesn’t share this data in their data portability exports meaning all that work isn’t transferable at all. I know being without Facebook makes things very tricky but I can manage my activity within it right now, this might change of course as FB gets more greedy

Its easy to blame Instagram for all types of ills but its not solely them. Its a combination of Instagram and its share holders, the silicon valley push for winner takes all adoption of everything (dare I say anything about Uber in London) but most of all; ourselves for being suckers to peer pressure, advertising and patterns which are so established others are telling us exactly how they work!

We blindly follow suit without thinking about the long term effects. Mark Manson suggests the smartphone is going to be this generations cigarettes. When thinking about most peoples experience of the smartphone with Instagram, Facebook and Whatsapp preloaded, I can’t help but think actually he’s got a good point. Its the perfect Black Mirror episode, total fantasy as Rachel said!

Black MIrror s3ep1

We seem to be playing with fire without a true understanding of the consequences. Even if we do, how do you make this clear to others who are suckered in? How do you make this clear in the face of peer & social pressure? How do we make this clear to the next generation, the ones born with visions of a unattainable perfection all around them?

I’m not a sucker and won’t be joining to be a poster or lurker just so I can scroll through my friends fake reality pictures.

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.

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